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The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins with illustrations by David Slonim,
Candlewick Press, 2013.

The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins (Candlewick, $15.99, Ages 3-7) is a quiet book. While there was not a lot of action and adventure in its 32 pages, I found myself drawn in by the promise a father made to his little boy, that this would be the summer they saw a deer.

This beautifully illustrated book, with oil paintings by David Slonim, took me back in time to treasured memories of communing with nature. As our civilization takes over more and more land, our jobs (and electronics) take up more and more of our time, and our children are under so much pressure to succeed at such a young age, an outing in nature allows us to reconnect on a deeper level. There are so many lessons that can’t be learned in school.

Take a hike through The Deer Watch, with a boy and his father. Meet the construction crew who, with their noisy equipment scares, the deer away from the corn the hunters left as bait. Ironically, they are saving them while at the same time pushing them out of their natural habitat.

Interior illustration from The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins with illustrations by David Slonim

Interior illustration from The Deer Watch by Pat Lowery Collins with illustrations by David Slonim, Candlewick Press, 2013.

We see all types of interesting wildlife as we turn the pages, but like the young boy in the book, our goal is to see a deer, and more importantly, to have a promise kept. And, just as the boy’s father doesn’t disappoint, neither shall the book.

I adored this moving story of anticipation and discovery, but would recommend it more for children 4-8 years old. Younger children might get a little squirmy as the boy in the story does when he has to wait quietly to spot a deer. However the reward of father and son sharing this special experience is well worth the wait.

– Reviewed by MaryAnne Locher

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Chirp, Click, Buzzzzzzz

BUG_COVERI absolutely love bugs! In fact, if I were not a writer, I’d choose to be an entomologist. There’s just so much to learn about bugs, and they are so fascinating to look at, too. Noisy Bug Sing-a-long ($8.95, Dawn Publications, Ages 3-8) written and illustrated by John Himmelman provides the littlest readers with a delightful introduction to the world of common bugs. Himmelman, who has written and illustrated more than 75 children’s books, started a “Bug Club” when he was eight years old. He has since co-founded the Connecticut Butterfly Association. How wonderful it is that he utilizes this love of nature to educate and express himself through his books!

Inside the pages of Noisy Bug Sing-a-long are big bold, eye-catching illustrations, with close-up detail of bugs and their surroundings. Simple one line prose teach readers about the sounds each critter makes, while the illustrations teach them about the environments where one may find them.

In the back of the book are illustrations of the sound waves coming from each bug, plus more information about the different species and tips about what to watch and listen for when you are looking for bugs in your own back yard.

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Curious kids will love Noisy Bug Sing-a-long.  When my daughter (now in college studying Geology) was young, I bought her a plastic bug box that came with a little magnifying glass. She would spend hours catching and studying bugs before releasing them back into the wild.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading many Dawn Publications books, and each and every title educates children about plant and animal life on our planet, how to identify it, grow it, respect it, care for it and learn more about it. What a terrific mission that is.

-Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Nature is Just Outside Your Window

Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature (Candlewick, $19.99, ages 3 and up) written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Mark Hearld, has been sitting on my coffee table for months now, begging me to write up my review of this incredible book about nature. With stunning paper-cut collage illustrations by Mark Hearld, Outside Your Window is a compendium of information, ideas, and even recipes related to the world outside our window.

The book is organized by season and Nicola Davies introduces each section with a brief description of what that season beholds. Each section includes a variety of poems describing various flora and fauna of the seasons, from the worms, to the birds, to the weather. Mark Hearld’s spectacular artwork appears in two-page spreads, and are not only colorful and creative, but full of details to keep your child (and yourself) enthralled in the descriptions of life scribed across each page.  Davies’s writing, while accessible to children, is also informative and educational.

From the life cycle of a butterfly to the glowing nature of the stars in the night sky, Outside Your Window is brimming with knowledge to be gained about all things nature. But this is far from a simple book written in verse. Author and Biologist Nicola Davies also includes pieces such as “Five Reasons to Keep Chickens,” and “Making Compost”–real life examples that can be put into practice by the budding farmer or gardener.  She even goes so far as to include recipes for such things as Berry Crumble to enjoy in Autumn, and seed cakes to make for the birds in Wintertime.

I adored this book from the moment I picked it up; it is a hearty book filled with beautiful images and illuminating poetry which you will love having in your library. The best part is, you can enjoy it with your child bit by bit, reading it as the seasons pass by outside your window, and putting into practice some of the suggestions for enjoying nature found in the book. Your child will be captivated by the lively illustrations, and you might even learn something you did not know about some obscure yet utterly fascinating fact of nature!

Today’s review comes courtesy of proud new mother Karen B. Estrada.

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Dare to Dream to Change the World

Me…Jane ($15.99, Little Brown Books, ages 1 and up) by author, illustrator and comic book artist, Patrick McDonnell, has won so many book awards that we simply cannot list them all. Most recently it was named a 2012 Caldecott Honor Book, and we at Good Reads with Ronna had to find out for ourselves just what all the buzz is about.

This story is about a curious ten-year-old girl named, Jane. Along with her favorite stuffed animal chimp, Jubilee, Jane explores the natural world outside her house, climbing trees, watching birds and reading books about what she discovers. She even hides in her granny’s chicken coup to watch a hen lay an egg. One day Jane takes a fancy to the animals of the African jungle after reading about them in Tarzan of the Apes. She is so touched by the book that she dreams of a life in Africa, living with and helping wild animals. One day her dream comes true, as she grows up to be Dr. Jane Goodall, world renowned for her studies of chimpanzees in Tanzania.

The story, written in simple prose, so beautifully and subtly depicts the innocence of a curious and highly intelligent child. The illustrations are really darling, with their muted tones, printed on matte-finished paper – perfectly fitting for the nature of this story. In the back of the book is a page with information about the accomplishments of Dr. Goodall and another page with an encouraging message from Jane herself. What I love about the book is that it inspires the youngest readers to embrace their passions and realize their own dreams of changing the world one day. (We certainly need more scientists to help save the planet!) There’s nothing better in life than finding your calling, and there’s no better example of a person who has done that than Jane Goodall.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Give Peas A Chance

Peas on Earth ($6.99, Robin Corey Books, ages 0-3) by L.A. local Todd H. Doodler is reviewed today by Krista Jefferies. For her bio, please visit our homepage.

Peas on Earth is an adorable board book by Todd H. Doodler, a pseudonym for author and artist Todd Harris Goldman.  This is an easy-to-handle book that will entertain young children while teaching them the value of peace on Earth.  The author plays with the word “peas” to show how everyone should get along like “two peas in a pod” or like “peanut butter and jelly,” which is an uplifting and positive message for children.  This story blends learning and fun with every color-filled page. Because of the playful artwork, children might not even realize that they are absorbing a valuable lesson, but their parents will certainly appreciate both the images and the intent. The book illustrates a world in which even ants would say, “Bless you!” to an anteater’s sneeze, and elephants and mice would “share their cheese.” The cheerful faces throughout the book happily lead up to the delightful pop-up at the end, which children will enjoy getting to over and over again.  This book is sure to appease any young reader!

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Three Books that Teach Children About Saving the Earth

These three reviews by Debbie Glade are dedicated to our planet.

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How the Weather Works: A Hands on Guide to Our Changing Climate (Templar/Candlewick, $17.99, ages 7-11) is written by Christiane Dorion and illustrated by Beverley Young.

Put a pop-up book in front of me, and watch me revert gleefully back to my childhood. This one is a very sturdy, beautiful, unique, interactive science book with flaps to lift, wheels to turn and tabs to pull. It explains what causes our weather to change and how weather is predicted, and there is way cool page about hurricanes, (which I am all too familiar with, living in Miami.) There is even an awesome pop up that explains how we are adding greenhouse gasses to the environment. I love that fact that this book is fun to use but is about an important and serious topic. You’ll love it because it answers all those weather questions kids ask (and even some you’ve often wondered about). It really is quite sophisticated, so older kids will get the most out of it. This one is a keeper!

E is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World – at Home, at School, and at Play ($18.99, Atria/Simon & Schuster, ages 5 and up) by Ian James Corlett

This is an innovative idea for a book. It includes 26 short stories that focus on the environment. Then questions are posed to make the reader think about solutions to the environmental situations presented in the stories. For example, one story is about a girl named Lucy, who loves to draw and writes many notes, stories and poems and uses a large volume of paper, crayons and pencils. The reader is asked what Lucy can do to waste less paper and make better use of her other materials. I like the way this book makes children think about how they can change their every day habits to reduce waste and keep the earth cleaner.

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climt_cover2How We Know What We Know About Our Changing Environment: Scientists and Kids Explore Global Warming (Paperback $11.95; Hardcover $18.95, Ages 9-13, Dawn Publications) by Lynne Cherry and Gary Braasch

Young curious minds get more than just an introduction to the science of climates and global warming when they read this sophisticated 66-page book. It’s packed with detailed facts and wonderful photographs to teach readers everything from changing animal habitats, rising seawater and temperature changes, to what they can do on their own help change their own “Climate Footprints.” There’s also a list of resources, a list of scientists mentioned in the book and a detailed index. I love that this book encourages students to think like scientists, and perhaps even inspires them to become scientists in the future. It sure got me thinking about saving planet earth.

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Can They Get Any Cuter?

So Many Animals!

It’s no wonder kids get so excited about reading books about animals. There are so many cute creatures to discover and an abundance of fascinating facts to learn. Today Debbie Glade reviews three adorable books…

9780375858864Orangutans are Ticklish: Fun Facts from an Animal Photographer ($16.99, Schwartz & Wade, ages 3-7), written by Jill Davis, is a uniquely wonderful book. The book starts with photographer, Steve Grubman explaining what it took to get all those amazing photos of the animals in this book, including his frightening experience having a tiger run after him. And the photos of the animals in the book are uncommon indeed, as Steve waited for the perfect moment to capture each of them in rare poses. The descriptions about each creature, along with the photos are a great read. Did you know that, unlike a crocodile, when an alligator’s mouth is closed, you can’t see his bottom teeth? Or that a zebra has black stripes on a white background, rather than having white stripes on a black background? Read this book and you’ll find out why. And yes, Orangutans are undoubtedly ticklish!

all_agesyoung_childrenThose who love baby animals will delight in two ZooBorns books (Beach Lane Books, ages 2 & up), written by Andrew Bleiman and photographed by Chris Eastland. ZooBorns: Zoo Babies from Around the World is written from the perspective of the animals. ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World’s Zoos and Aquariums is a bit more sophisticated and includes animals’ birthdates and facts. The photos in both of these books will melt your heart, and your kids will want to look at them again and again! You’ll enjoy them too.

debbieglade24Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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Raccoons and Foxes Up-close and Personal

Fascinating Facts About Every Day Animals

Debbie Glade reviews these two books about wildlife from Firefly Books.

516hhuw27il_sl500_aa300_foxesIt’s fun to learn about unusual animals, but what about every day animals we encounter in parks and alleys? They’re fascinating too! Exploring the World of Raccoons and Exploring the World of Foxes by Tracy C. Read are informative little books that are packed with details about these foxescommon, furry creatures.

Both books have excellent close-up photographs that make the animals look so cute, you can’t help but love them. Readers will discover facts about the animals’ physical traits, their habitats, their natural talents as well as their mating habits.  Did you know that the raccoon’s black mask on its face helps to reduce glare so it can see better at night? Or that both a baby raccoon and a baby fox are born blind and completely foxeshelpless and do not even open their eyes until they are 2 – 3 weeks old? A fox can jump seven feet and has keen eyesight similar to a cat! And a raccoon is highly intelligent and has a fantastic memory. These two books are perfect for curious young readers who are always a lot of questions about animals. Parents will enjoy them too.

debbieglade2Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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And This Bird Can Read

51thq7kdjel_sl500_aa300_CALVIN CAN’T FLY: THE STORY OF A BOOKWORM BIRDIE ($14.95, Sterling Children’s Books, ages 4-8) written by Jennifer Berne and illustrated by Keith Bendes is reviewed today by Lindy Michaels, of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

Calvin is a little bird called a Starling. He has seven brothers and sisters and sixty-seven thousand four hundred and thirty-two cousins. Wow! Starlings have big families. But Calvin wasn’t like his other family members. While they did Starling things all day long, like discovering worms and dirt and grass and bugs and ants, Calvin discovered books. And as he learned to read, he dreamt of adventure stories and legends, poetry and even of becoming a great writer, himself, one day.

But while he had his beak buried in a book, all the other Starlings were learning a very important skill… how to fly. While they all practiced swooping and hovering and flying figure eights, high in the sky, Calvin’s mind soared with all the knowledge flying into his brain.

And then, one day, it was time for the Starlings to fly South for the winter… everyone except Calvin, that is, since he had never learned to fly. What happens next is two-fold. One, how a family comes together to help one of their own, and two, how one little Starling’s knowledge, learned from reading books, would save his entire family.

This engaging and satisfying tale will delight little ones and reinforce how important, educational and fun the written word can be.

lindymichaelspic1The very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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Thinking About Summer Already?

Note from Ronna: If your children are anything like mine, as early as their first week of school, they are already planning for and dreaming about next summer!

Aptly named, Mama, Is it Summer Yet? (Abrams, $17.95) written and illustrated by Nikki McClure is about a child who has grown tired of winter and cannot wait for summer to arrive. The simple text creatively teaches young children about all the signs of spring that lead into summer. The unique illustrations are done in mostly bold black cut-outs with pastel backgrounds.The author was inspired to write and 9780810984684_3dillustrate this book after her own son asked her, “Mama Is it Summer Yet?” This darling book – her response – can benefit all those little ones out there who cannot wait until the weather gets warmer so they can run and play outside.

debbiegladeDebbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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Postcards about Planet Earth: Q & A

ask-drkfisher_pearth-6Ask Dr. K. Fisher About Planet Earth ($10.99, Kingfisher/Macmillan, ages 4-8) is a clever, sturdy hardcover book by author Claire Llewellyn. Full of postcards and letters written by animals who pose the most unusual questions to expert Dr. Fisher, this book is sure get kids thinking about Mother Nature. For instance, a salmon wants to know what life will be like for him when he swims from the river to the ocean. Dr. Fisher helps the salmon rest easy by telling him this is a completely natural and safe process for him. All the ask-drkfisher_pearth-7letters teach young readers about the animals and the places where they live.

9780753463048Each of the postcards and letters, both to and from Dr. K. Fisher, are craftily illustrated by Kate Sheppard. This makes the book extraordinarily fun to read. There’s a simple glossary and an index in the back of the book as well.

ask-drkfisher_pearth-12The best aspect of this book is that it teaches kids fascinating facts in a subtle way rather that pounding them over the head with them. I suppose I already knew there are three different layers of the earth, and the core is too hot for any creature to survive. But somehow, seeing an illustration and reading a real simple description, really hit home with me.

debbiegladeDebbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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We’re on Our Way Home

Humans Aren’t the Only Creatures Who Relocate

Regular contributor Debbie Glade tells us about migration in the following review:

home_coverAnimal lovers will delight in Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration, written by Marianne Berkes. The author features 10 very different animals, like penguins and manatees, artic terns and caribou and writes rhyming verses about their migration patterns. Then the migration routes are beautifully mapped out. At the back of the book there’s a paragraph with more migration details about each animal. I, for home1one, am thrilled to learn new fascinating facts. For example, did you know that a loggerhead turtle migrates for some 20 years and travel around 8,000 miles in its lifetime?

home3Award-winning illustrator and environmentalist, Jennifer DiRubbio provides some marvelous pictures of the creatures in their natural habitats to round out this great book. I love the fact that   Going Home teaches children about geography as well as animals. This book will encourage some great conversation with your children and generate many questions about our wide, wonderful world.

debbieglade2Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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Plant the Seeds of Peace and Hope

Sean Burgess reviews We Planted A Tree ($17.99, Random House Children’s Books, Ages 5-8 )

weplantedatreeI try not to judge a book by its cover, but you can’t help it when you check out We Planted a Tree by Diane Muldrow. The title is centered and planted firmly in the leaves of the modernized, cartoon-style tree. And at the roots, two families, one from possibly the USA, the other from somewhere in Africa, all lined up and proudly admiring the result of their awesome arborous accomplishment. I knew right away this was going to be a special read. I got the sense that a connection was about to be made. Definitely, the essential bond between people and plants, fixed in our duty to conserve.

Dr. Wangari Maathi, a 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate is quoted on the first page saying, “When we plant tress, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.” We plant the seeds of trees, just as we plant the seeds for a family. And like planting a tree, we get the chance to see the majestic growth and changes through years and years of nurture. The simple text by Diane Muldrow, outlined through a little science, is cheerfully and amazingly complemented by the illustrations of Bob Staake. I love reading books to my daughter Teagan and weplantedatreeteaI’m always amazed at how well illustrators enhance the stories. But in the case of We Planted a Tree, I think Bob Staake has artfully expanded the who, what, where and why the trees are being planted. On each page, there were plenty of details Teagan and I could talk about. I think she is already getting a sense of how important tress are to the world’s existence both scientifically and aesthetically. We Planted a Tree takes us on a journey around the world and shares how all families, from any country, can work together to plant and preserve
our botanical buddies.

This was one of the few children’s books that I have sat down to look over all by myself after reading with Teagan. I had to do a little more research about this book and its creators. One great fact I discovered was that We Planted a Tree was inspired by the work done by Kenya’s Green Belt Movement, and its message celebrates nature, growth, and the power of community effort.

Whether it’s Earth Day or Arbor Day, I think any day is a good day to think about our impact and imprint on society and our eco-system. Trees sustain and withstand the passage of time. We only hope the same for our families for generations to come. I wish the book was printed on recycled paper but I do thank Diane and Bob, for a wonderful book that has renewed the sense of how important it is for my family to contribute to cleaning, conserving and saving our Earth.

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Our Forest Friends

“Animal lovers will love to read this book day or night,” says guest reviewer Debbie Glade.

39984042Kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy books with foldout pages and detailed illustrations of animals. Parents can be thoroughly entertained by this too. Day and Night in the Forest by Susan and Peter Barrett introduces readers to how the entire ecosystem of a forest works including the life forms that vary between day and night.

The book starts out with a simple page that tells you how to best use the book. Following the two fabulous foldouts of the Daytime and Nighttime Forest (with keys to help you identify the animals) are pages separated by Conifer Forests, Dense Forest, Mixed Forest and the Forest’s Edge so that readers can understand how and why different animals live in different forest locations during either the daylight or nighttime hours. Each page has illustrations of animals along with short descriptions of its habits and survival techniques. There is a helpful index in the back of the book along with a glossary of terms.

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What I like about the book is that many of the animals described are those that children are familiar with and have seen in their backyards or local parks – butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, woodpeckers, owls, deer, raccoons and more. It is wonderful that the readers can learn about these creatures’ homes and the importance of preserving our forests for their survival. It is obvious that the Susan and Peter Barrett spent a great deal of time researching and writing this valuable book to educate young readers. The only thing that could have made Day and Night in the Forest even better would have been the use of brighter colors for the incredible illustrations.

Editor’s Note: This book is recommended for ages 7-10. If you like this, there’s also Day and Night in The Swamp.

Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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This World Is Your World

The spectacular illustrations of Caldecott Honor Medalist Marla Frazee make All the World a very special book. Visit this illustrator’s website www.marlafrazee.com, learn about how much effort she puts into her illustrations and you too will be enchanted as well as inspired. Her illustrations of rainfall are extraordinary!

9781416985808All the World (Simon & Schuster, grades Kindergarten – 2) is a big square picture book with big double page pictures and short, rhyming prose by author Liz Garton Scanlon. It’s about our world and all the things in it – us, our families, the food we eat, our land, the sky, our weather and much more. The text sends the youngest of readers an uncomplicated, but important message about the basics of our earth and our lives, while the illustrations take you right to where the author wants you go.

This is the kind of book you keep on the shelf for years, read over and over again and savor the illustrations to capture what you missed the time before.

“All the world is here. It is there. It is everywhere. All the world is right where you are. Now.”
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debbieglade1Debbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

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